Multi Media Authorship in the Classroom? I Wish ... 'A New Form of Reading Response Seems to Be Evolving from the Collages and Tape/slide Shows We Used to Experiment with ...'
Knight, Gavin, NATE Classroom
I was reminded last night just how much technology has changed things in English classrooms since I first picked up chalk and duster. I was whizzing around websites on my computer, chasing material about some of the latest fictional adventurers for young readers. I'd looked at mission files for Alex Rider and Young James Bond, I'd found my way into confidential files about CHERUB trainees, and then I went to see what was there on Artemis Fowl. I opened up Eion Colfer's website, viewed the most recent additions to his blog and then followed a link that took me to Youtube. That was when I became aware just how much things have altered.
Many of you, like me, will have tried to fire up pupils' engagement with the books they're reading, by asking for a visual response. Typically, this might be as a storyboard of a dramatic scene within the text, a new book cover and blurb, or illustrations of some of the main characters, perhaps as pencil sketches or paintings. You might even have been brave enough to try creating impressionistic collages with pupils and seen the chaos that ensues. My feeble attempts at this were in the days when cutting and pasting meant literally that. As you're aware, ICT has long since ensured that we can now put away all those clogged up glue sticks and illustrations hacked out of whatever Sunday papers, or local freebies, you happened to have around. No more howls of anguish at the snowstorms of paper left on the floor as the pupils march out to the next lesson, oblivious to the mess they've made. What you might not have been alerted to is that a new form of reading response seems to be evolving from the collages and tape/slide shows we used to experiment with. If you haven't yet encountered pupils producing video clip tributes to books they've enjoyed then you simply must check these out. As an example of what I mean have a look at the materials on Artemis Fowl to be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrkaLCC 50C8
Here you will find a funny, promotional video clip of author, Eion Colfer, during one of the Fairies, Fiends and Flatulence shows that he did at a West End theatre in 2006. This would be great for warming up the interest of your pupils, should you decide to show it, but then you might like to move on and watch the Artemis Fowl Series Tribute. This is a cleverly constructed slideshow of fan-created portraits of Colfer's main characters, drawn in manga comic style, backed by a thumping rock track. Having done this visit the fan-made movie trailers, showing a very convincing Butler in action, (bodyguard to Artemis), and also view Artemis Fowl in The Sims. No doubt you'll want to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each tribute, but teachers may feel compelled to draw attention to the enthusiasm for the books shining through in every frame. These tributes confirm that books are making a real difference to the lives of young readers.
How did they do it? And can we duplicate this in class?
For some of you, creating photo stories like these will seem pretty low level technology. In which case this article probably isn't for you; for others, starting out on the process of multi media authorship may seem daunting and high-tech. It isn't. It's not very complicated. Your pupils will love putting their own tributes together and, of course, they don't have to just focus on fiction writers. Working in this way could enhance understanding of any poetry, drama, or any thematic work you might have on the go.
Most of these tributes are built upon the same foundations, blending together images and music, as a slideshow. You don't have to be a great artist to create presentations like these; lots of the images used tend to be pinched from sources on the web. If you go to www.google.co.uk, select images, and then type in your chosen topic, galleries of artistic material will open up.
Two of the best are:
www.artemisfowl.fangathering.com and www. …